Thursday 23 May 2019

Repeat of Cardiff crash will be end for Martin O'Neill - Keith Andrews

Roy Keane and Martin O’Neill. Photo: Sportsfile
Roy Keane and Martin O’Neill. Photo: Sportsfile
Cobh Ramblers manager Stephen Henderson, left, and Derry City boss Kenny Shiels at the EA Sports Cup final media day yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Keith Andrews believes that the September international break for Martin O'Neill's Ireland was 'alarming' and 'a circus.'

And the former Ireland midfielder believes that the positions of O'Neill and his assistant Roy Keane will be untenable if the next two competitive games in October go as badly as the last pair of meaningful matches - the 5-1 World Cup playoff loss to Denmark and the 4-1 humbling by Wales in Cardiff last Thursday.

Andrews feels there was nothing run of the mill about Keane's run-in with Arter which led to the latter stepping away from international duty and fears that there is a lack of unity within the group after a turbulent period.

"It's been a circus," said Andrews, yesterday.

"I take no joy in covering games like Cardiff. There was no aggression, no cohesion or no intent to make things happen. What's even more alarming is what's creeping out about what's happening off the pitch.

"Declan Rice is a different scenario to the (situation with) Harry Arter and Jon Walters, but the unfortunate leaking of Stephen Ward's WhatsApp message . . . it's not what we want. Sometimes results paper over the cracks but in this case it's obviously the opposite way."

The main problem that Andrews had with the reported Keane/Arter skirmish is that he does not believe that it's the job of the assistant manager to be putting himself in that position.

That said, Andrews does not necessarily agree with Arter's decision to enter a self-imposed exile.

"I think I would probably have gone more the Jon Walters route to be honest," he replied, a reference to Walters' decision to confront Keane.

"I wouldn't have missed out on playing for my country because of one individual.


"I think it is a big issue if this is the norm - what's going on. It's far from the norm to what it should be because that is not the role of an assistant manager. I've been a first-team coach, I've worked with assistant managers as a player and that is not your role.

"When you go to that side of the fence, your role is to help the manager. "I think (Martin) will stick by Roy, it's fairly simple he's going to do that."

"But If that incident was what we're led to believe from the leaked WhatsApp, then that's obviously not getting the best out of players.

"We want all of our best players available and is Harry Arter one of our best 23 players? Yeah he is.

"And I've made the point before; a lot of these players have come through an academy system where there's a certain type of preparation for games and in the way that coaches speak to them. Gone are the days of the hairdryer treatment.

Andrews was speaking at his alma mater Stella Maris for the announcement of a new partnership between the schoolboy club and the Dublin Port Company.

FAI CEO John Delaney was also present, but he didn't speak to the assembled media.

But Andrews feels that the Abbotstown chiefs will have to consider the management's position if the games with Denmark and Wales go badly.

"It depends on the manner," he said. "If we see anything like Denmark in the Aviva and Wales in Cardiff, then I think that's the end of the era, there's no doubt about it

"There's a lot of talk about the third campaign syndrome. It stems from Denmark but also what happened in January with Stoke.

"I said at the time that I wouldn't be happy if I was a player and the manager was flirting to go with a club when we were all hurting after Denmark."

Irish Independent

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